New York- and Rome-based artist C. Finley may be best known for the cheery Wallpapered Dumpsters installed in around 12 cities across the world since 2006, but a show of her new work currently on view at the just-opened Jenn Singer Gallery in New York foregrounds the artist’s works on canvas.
“Moves Moves,” an exhibition of seven paintings, puts the emphasis on Finley’s abstractions—whose round forms call to mind Sonia Delaunay for a digital age—though two pieces (faces in ecstasy; Moves Moves: The Kiss) are in line with her more signature, erotic figural works.
The formal connection across Finley’s public art, erotic works and abstractions is a buzzing palette. “The primary focus of this show is color,” says Finley. “I’ve also been studying a lot of sacred geometry. The paintings have an aura and they really capture your attention. There is a power in color and a feeling in color and that’s all related to beauty and to universal truth for me.”
The new works move away from past series such as Panty Girls, which Finley considers to be both art and erotica. “Erotica is just one emotion in the gamut of emotions that to me is the lava of all that is,” she says. “For example, in Rome, seeing the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa or seeing the Pietà, which is an icon for unconditional love, these types of works of art last for 500 years because they are so meaningful to all people. My primary focus right now in my practice is to create that lava, to get to the ecstasy, the joy, the rapture, the unconditional love.”
And what better place to commune with the transcendent works of yore on a daily basis than Rome, where Finley spends half her year. “Pretty much every day I light a candle in Santa Maria Trastevere,” she says. “It is one of the oldest churches in Rome and it’s really special inside. It’s a sacred space and I’m interested in being in a place that has that type of light and art and architecture. The people who built these churches were really into sacred geometry.”
Next on the horizon for Finley is to begin planning the 2017 edition of the Whitney Houston Biennial—an all-women counterweight to the Whitney Museum’s edition—that Finley organized for the first time in 2014. “Rather than a comment that women are not represented,” Finley says, “I’m creating opportunities for women to show their work.”
Portrait by François Dischinger; Produced by Michael Reynolds